The Decade the Music Died

The last time Don Henley made any sense, I was in junior high.

But then there’s Henley’s op-ed (no joke) in today’s Washington Post:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the root problem [with the music industry] is not the artists, the fans or even new Internet technology. The problem is the music industry itself. It’s systemic. The industry, which was once composed of hundreds of big and small record labels, is now controlled by just a handful of unregulated, multinational corporations determined to continue their mad rush toward further consolidation and merger.


Oops — did I say Henley was making sense? Got so excited by the first sentence in that graf, that I must’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Henley is right — to a point. The problem isn’t the artists or the internet or the fans. Or even mergers. The problem is records aren’t worth buying anymore.

When was the last time — other than Ken Layne & The Corvids — you willingly plunked down full retail price for a new album by a new artist and enjoyed even a simple majority of the tracks?

When was the last time you even sat down and just listened to an entire new album, instead of using it for background music while doing something else?

No matter how many good singles a new artist puts out, for me they remain suspect. I’ve just bought too many records now with two good cuts and a lot of bad filler.

The only full CDs I still buy are those by artists I trust — but the record industry can’t go on forever just selling me a new Steely Dan LP every three years. Other than that — Sinatra is dead, Prince got too much religion lately, and how many more Diana Krall piano ballads do I really need? And they can repackage the same ’80s New Wave hits I loved so much only so many times before I just stop buying.


Musically, I’m not yet a total old fart — there are still some damn fine singles out there. But almost no full CDs. And the ones worth buying usually aren’t worth buying at the price they want.

So what do I do? I buy a lot fewer CDs, I download more stuff I shouldn’t. I don’t steal because I want to, nor because I think I have some “right” to someone else’s intellectual property, nor because I can’t afford the product.

It’s just that the product mostly sucks — Don Henley included.


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